No matter your goals for your new house, it’s a good idea to incorporate features that will be both child-friendly and senior-friendly. If you have or plan to have children, you’ll want features such as solid deck rails on your outdoor living area, and you may eventually hope to age in place. Your investments now could make life easier for your senior loved ones and yourself as you age.
Focal Points First
Every house needs a kitchen, main floor bathroom, and living space. If you’re planning to go with an open-concept design, you’ll want to invest in cabinetry and woodwork that functions well throughout the house. If possible, consider putting a wheelchair-accessible bath on the main floor so that guests of all capacities can function easily inside your home. Try to incorporate features such as levered door handles rather than knobs for easy opening.
A simple addition you can make to your home design that will benefit both children and seniors is light sensors instead of switches. As little ones toddle and aging parents struggle with balance and mobility, a light that comes on automatically as they enter a room will make everyone feel a little more secure. It also helps with safe sleeping for seniors because they’ll be less likely to fall on a midnight trip to the bathroom. To further ensure safety for seniors, try to construct bathrooms with high-rise toilets or add handrails to at least one bathroom. There are different things to consider when designing a room for an aging parent than there are for a child. For children, carefully review any balcony construction and stairwell openings to make sure that you can easily install baby gates and other barriers.
Take care to make sure that flooring in bathrooms and kitchens is slip-resistant. A good quality vinyl flooring can reduce the risk of a tumble for an elderly loved one and stand up to hard use by kids. In addition to making bathrooms safer for the elderly, take care to add a step stool or other access options for kids so that little ones can easily wash up safely.
The construction tradition of placing all the bedrooms on the second floor isn’t friendly to children or the elderly. It’s too easy to fall on the way to the kitchen, even for an adult carrying a child early in the morning. Make sure there’s enough space on all levels for everyone(we talked about that before) and that the home is designed with function in mind.
Living spaces need to function safely as well as look good. Design choices you make now that provide easy access for people of varying ages and abilities can be a bonus when it’s time to sell.
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